Chris Zhu (I) Named Finalist in Yau High School Science Award

On November 3, senior Chris Zhu was named a finalist in the USA Region of the 2019 Global S.-T. Yau High School Science Award (YHSA) for his mathematical research in Enumerative Combinatorics. As one of three finalists in the mathematics division, Chris is invited to compete in the YHSA Global Final, to be held at Tsinghua University in China.

Selected as a semifinalist based on his research paper, Chris advanced to the USA Regional Competition at Harvard Science Center on November 2 to present his work, titled Enumerating Permutations and Rim Hooks Characterized by Double Descent Sets. In front of six influential mathematics professors from Harvard and Brandeis, Chris introduced his research effort: “In 1915, the British mathematician MacMahon published his ground-breaking work about descent polynomials. For the next century, little work was done on the topic until five researchers from American universities published a joint paper in 2017 to present recursions and algebraic properties of descent polynomials. Inspired by this 2017 paper, I extended their research to a new pattern of descents and proposed a recursion, as well as several new theorems for this new pattern by classifying number sequences as geometric diagrams.”

Mesmerized by the connections between numbers and shapes from a young age, Chris started his exploration in higher math three years ago at Boston University’s Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS) summer program. Last summer, Chris continued his immersion in this program with an awarded PROMYS Scholarship and the support of Roxbury Latin’s O’Connell Scholarship. This year Chris was invited back as a Junior Counselor to mentor new members and teach mini-courses in elliptic curves, an advanced topic in algebraic geometry. Over the past two years, Chris has furthered his excursion into group theory, commutative algebra, complex analysis, analytic number theory, and enumerative combinatorics at MIT PRIMES, a year-long research-oriented math and science program for high school students. In October, Chris published his PRIMES research work on, which will be in a publication by The International Press of Boston.

The S.-T. Yau High School Science Award was founded in 2008 by the Fields Medal Laureate Shing-Tung Yau, director of the Center for Mathematical Sciences and Applications and the William Caspar Graustein Professor of Mathematics at Harvard University. For the past eleven years, the S.-T. Yau High School Science Award has been inspiring thousands of high school students across the globe to take on the challenge of conducting independent mathematics and science research. It provides a platform for international high school math and science enthusiasts to compete and communicate. Being selected as one of the U.S. finalists, Chris will have the opportunity to broaden his connections with the participants from China, Europe, Singapore, and other countries in the Global Final competition.